It’s been two months since I got home from the Race.
For the first month, I swear, I was fine. I was surrounded by my best friends and my family. Bless the Lord, oh my soul, I ate Chik-fil-a probably four times a week. I preached in church without crying.
To be honest, I didn’t cry at all in that first month. I was caught up in the familiarity of home, soaking in all the love my newly-retired parents and my friends on summer break could give me. Not every Racer is so lucky, I know, to have a place to come back to that fits so well.
This second month has been… different.
For example: I’m standing outside the largest REI in the country. There was a mix-up with my account, and I was embarrassed in front of the cashier and Hilary, my new roommate. Outside, I’m trying not to cry and also calling my mom, ostensibly to figure out the mix-up with the REI membership but mostly because I need to hear her voice right then, so that I don’t cry in front of all the rest of my new roommates, who are now gathered and ready to go. Like a child, I need my mom to tell me everything is going to be okay.
That was the moment I realized I wasn’t doing okay.
Lately, my journal entries have been strings of questions.
Is it okay that I cry so much now? Should I have moved to Seattle? Am I a coward for being so scared?
I have struggled to find language to explain how God communicates for a long time. It’s easiest to say “and then God spoke,” but God does not speak to me. God is not silent; God is also not audible, and hardly ever like fire or rushing wind or immediate answers, like I and others have tried to make God out to be.
In this season, God is like a seed. Like something small and surprising, nestled in damp soil. God is a thing to be nourished, the point of all my hopes.
So in the silence that always follows my list of questions, I sense the presence of the Spirit: because my faith feels like a field lying fallow, and I hope there is something beneath the surface, waiting to emerge.
In this second month after the Race, I moved into a new community with five total strangers. (A weirdly familiar experience.)
Barbara Brown Taylor once wrote about being asked to speak, and when she asked what she should speak on, her friend replied, “Tell us what’s saving your life right now.”
Right now, what’s saving my life is these five strangers.
I have one roommate who says profound, deeply-felt words with a gentle voice. One is the most brilliant and passionate person I’ve ever met, and another one is wise and caring beyond his years. One entrusts his story to others with insane courage. And another carries his family history, his life story, and his passions like the sacred things they are.
They are so beautiful. They are so different from me, and they are what’s saving my life right now.
I’m not okay right now. I’m overwhelmed by a lot of things, like REI and my community’s monthly grocery budget and not having to constantly be in the same room with someone. What I’m learning from my roommates is how okay this is, to not be okay. I get to come home anyway.
God is like this, too. God can be a seed and a home, all at once.
Probably, in the next couple of weeks (or months), I will call my mom again just because I need to hear her voice. I might cry in the grocery store (but I really hope I don’t). I will probably have another moment where I am confronted with how hard the Race was, and all the ways it is still affecting me.
But I still to get to come home. And I get to make a home, with the people who are currently saving my life, so that someday I might do the same for them.